I am a distinguished alumna! No… Seriously!

A few years ago (in June) there was a Vermont College of Fine Arts party at American Library Association’s conference that I was completely stressed about? It was at Tami Lewis Brown’s House. Katherine Paterson was there and I had no idea what I was supposed to say if I actually met Katherine Paterson.

I mean, what do you say to someone who wrote THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA?

1. You made me cry
2. You made me make my own fantasy world in the woods in my backyard.
3. No, really you made me sob.
4. Can I have 1/100th of your talent?
5. Gasp! Chortle! Squee!

Well, I did NOT make a fool of myself about Katherine Patterson. And I didn’t avoid the author M. T. Anderson even though he’s so tall I find it intimidating.

And I ended up having to wear my cardigan the whole time because my dress was way too cleavage-y.

How do I know this? I know this because the doorman at the hotel  stared at it and asked if I wanted to hang out. Really. And I am a children’s book author! I am supposed to be not the type of person the doorman thinks he can ask out.

I think part of the problem was I told him I loved him when he ran after the shuttle bus for me. Bad Carrie! Bad! 

Side note: Don’t tell random people you love them even when you do love them in that moment.

Anyway, I went to the party and my hair was flat and I had a cardigan on even though it was 98 degree.

And then… and then…

Katherine and Tami made speeches about the awesomeness of Vermont College. I think Tobin may have too.

And then… And then…

They gave Kekla Magoon of awesome an award for being a distinguished alumna and she cried and was beautiful and I pet her on the back and tried to comfort her while thinking how awesome she is and then….

And then…

I GOT ONE TOO!

Seriously! I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was awarded a plaque and everything and I almost died because I kept thinking, “People are going to take pictures and I am wearing my dumpy cardigan to hide my cleavage AND my hair is flat. Crud. Crud. Crud. Why did nobody tell me?”

But it was amazing.

The whole time I kept thinking that I wouldn’t even be a writer if not for the people at Vermont College and how there are so many amazing graduates who deserved that award, and I kept looking out there in the crowd and seeing those amazing writers, and it was so completely humbling. 

But then I also thought about how terrified I was when I first started at Vermont. Some people were already published. I had barely written one book. I felt – no, I knew – that I didn’t belong and I almost quit that first week because I knew there was no way I could possibly belong there with all those people who had been writing for forever and who knew all the terms like objective correlative and who all the publishing houses, and I knew nothing.

I didn’t believe in myself at all.

Lisa Jahn Clough and Emily Wing Smith and Ed Briant (who said something awesome at a reading to me) then Tim Wynne Jones were the reasons I toughed it out that first semester. I am so very glad I did because Vermont didn’t just make me into a writer it gave me a community of fellowship, of learning and of people who I adore (even if they are tall). 

I am still trying to make it so I can deserve that award. I really am. 

More than that though, I want to make it so everyone can get that kind of dumpy cardigan moment, to get loved and recognized. It might be for running after a shuttle bus. It might be for making a children’s book, but we get to choose who we are, how we interact with the world, who we can be.

I want so badly for everyone to choose empathy, to choose their own power, to choose to make the right choices. I want everyone to feel that love and recognition that I was lucky enough to feel that June.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

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Facing Your Fears

I make a big deal about being brave. That’s because I have a lot of anxiety about certain things:

LIST OF BIG THINGS I HAVE MAJOR ANXIETY ABOUT

  1. My voice
  2. Being in videos
  3. Showing art
  4. Dead clowns reanimating.
  5. People I love dying.

Anyway, I’m pretty open about the things that make me nervous and over on Facebook, I’ve been having Be Brave Fridays where I do something that I am uncomfortable about and encourage others to be brave, too.

So, what I’m really uncomfortable about is showing my art. That’s because of a couple things:

  1. It’s really personal
  2. I’m not trained
  3. My mother.

As I told a lovely woman that I met on Friday night, “My mom was amazing, but she had really defined notions of what our family could and couldn’t do.”

The lady said, “Oh, I get this. My mother is the same way. I get this.”

According to my Mother, If we were going to create things, it was supposed to be:

  1. Meat-based meals
  2. Babies.
  3. Writing
  4. Music.

She said to me on multiple occasions when I was little, “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.”

But I really wanted to draw straight lines and make comics and paintings. I knew there was no point though.

None of us can draw a straight line.

I spent years and years wishing I could draw or paint. I spent years and years wishing I could make images without words.

Not an artistic bone.

When I was divorcing, I gave in and bought paint. I would stay up late into the night, painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was the only way I could think to get my emotions out into the world so that they wouldn’t fester inside of me.

It didn’t matter that they sucked because nobody would see them. I would paint over canvasses because I didn’t have enough money to buy more canvas. I would paint on newspaper pages (not a good idea), on the backs of old-fashioned notebooks, on anything.

Not an artistic bone in my body?

It seemed pretty true.

I became a writer and I wrote novels, but sometimes I would still get these images in my head. I would need to get them out.

So, I’d trudge down into the basement and paint.

It’s cold in the basement. The kitty litter box is in the basement. It’s easy to hide down in that basement. I hid.

Sometimes when I get stuck in a story, or can’t work out its theme, I paint.

Sometimes when I get lost inside my emotions, I paint.

A woman said to me on Friday, “You wrote all these books, too? I have never met anyone who is good at both before.”

And I laughed and was all self-disparaging and said, “You still haven’t.”

She gave me a look and said, “Oh, honey. Yes, I have.”

Oh, honey. Yes, I have.

Even writing that now? It makes me get all teary-eyed.

Painting is the places inside of me where I can’t make words work, where I can’t get things to express themselves via writing, so I have to go deeper.

There are places that are deeper than words.

It’s hard to show that to the world especially when:

  1. You haven’t been trained
  2. Nobody in your family can draw a straight line
  3. There’s not an artistic bone in your body.
  4. You live in a world where being vulnerable and authentic is often derided and scorned.

I started Be Brave Fridays because I was tired of hiding. I posted paintings even though I was positive not one single person would be kind. But people were kind and one person, Aymie Walsh (co-owner of CoeSpace in Bangor) sent me a message and asked me if I wanted to be in an Art Walk.

An Art Walk is a thing where people go from site to site and check out different artists. It all takes place during a set time period in a location like a city or downtown.

When Aymie sent me that message? I thought she might be punking me. I texted my daughter and she said, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

My daughter is the bravest human I know. She’s faced all her fears now. She’s a field artillery officer. She went to Harvard. She’s jumped off buildings. She’s survived me being her mother.

Yes, there is a dog hanging out in the corner.

So, I said yes.

I said yes even though I kept hearing those phrases, wrapping themselves around my heart, over and over again.

Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.

I was an anxious wreck all last Friday. I had one of those existential life crisis moments where I didn’t know why I bothered to exist at all. I was a punk all day. I had so many fears.

So many.

Then we put up all my paintings on the beautiful white walls of CoeSpace. And something inside me shattered.

This could not be real.

I expected nobody to come. I expected people to mock me to my face. I expected to hear those same sentences only slightly twisted around.

You don’ t have an artistic bone in your body. You can’t even draw a straight line.

What are you trying to do?

Here’s the thing though. Nobody said those words to me.

But here’s the bigger thing. Even if they had said those words? They don’t get to make those words real. Only I get to make those words real. Only I get to have that power over who I am and what I want to be.

That’s something I have to learn over and over again in my life. That’s something that I have to remember and paint through because that realization? It’s a heart realization. It’s a soul realization. And it’s too big for words.

There are much better things to tell ourselves, to sing into our stories, and to bind our hearts with.

Oh, honey. Yes, you have.

Those words.

Those words made me braver. Aymie made me braver. My poor, sweet family that dealt with me all day? They made me braver.

I want you to be brave, too. Go after the person you want to be, okay? Sing out your story in the melodies that you want to hear. Become.

Become.

You can. You have. You will.

Over and over again.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Writing Tip Wednesday: Defying Jerks’ Expectations and Going After Your Dreams

A long time ago there was a woman on one of those singing competition shows and she was not what society would call good looking.

Because of her looks and age, people expected her to suck. This was also because she did some weird thing with her hips before she sang. Prior to her tryout, she said she’d always wanted to be a professional singer, to sing in front of a super big audience. People snickered.

They truly snickered.

I’m sure she could hear them.

But then she sang.

She did not suck.

People cried instead of snickering.

And I totally wanted to be her. I wanted to be the one singing and making people gasp and cry and stand on their knees all because of my voice and my talent. I wanted to be the one who defied their expectations.

Singing like that woman? That’s not a dream I’ll ever get. 

First off, I was never even in show choir. And I have never auditioned for a televised talent competition. I haven’t even done karaoke because I get super social anxiety about those things. Plus, stage fright.  

But I was in this cheesy song and dance company once.

IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING

But let me say: I was paid.

So, I think this counts as being a professional singer, right?  *clears throat* Of course, we played places like Chuck E’ Cheeses or the Masonic temple in Manchester, NH.  

I am happy to say no pizza was thrown on me during the Chuck E’ Cheese performance.

Sarah Silverman was also in the group. So was Bridget Walsh, the third national-touring ANNIE! I was totally out classed. I never had one of those big show-stopping solos. 

I also never got to perform with a dog like Bridget did in ANNIE. ;(

I don’t think I ever will perform with a dog or have a show-stopping solo.

I kind of gave up on that dream.

Other Dreams

When I was little, I dreamt that I’d find Bigfoot. I dreamt that I’d write books, change the world for better, would have art in museums.

One of my teachers told me that I’d never get any dreams because my voice was so hideous that people would never take me seriously.

My own sweet mom told me that people in our family are incapable of making art, let alone museum-worthy art.

Society told me (and keeps telling me) that you can’t make the world better.

So many dreams…

I never gave up on my dream of writing.

I am still working on that one. Someday, I want to write in a way that people sing. I want people to gasp and feel and laugh and be on that journey with me, because of my words. Even though I’ve been a New York Times bestseller, there are moments when I feel like that dream is impossible. I keep plugging along though, trying to ignore that teacher’s voice in my ear, telling me that my very essence, my voice, will make people never pay attention, take me seriously, make them snicker instead of applaud.

A lot of times I work with other writers who are so close to giving up on their dreams even though they are so talented, and have great stories and craft and it makes me so worried and it makes my heart hurt to think of them giving up.

Dreams matter. Hard work matters. Persistence matters. Your story matters.

Do you have dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you feeling unmotivated? If so think about the lady who people snickered at and how her talent made them cry. If so, you can even think about me.

I promise, I’ll be thinking about you.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Quick Writing Tip

Own Your Own Stupid, Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast for Writers and Humans

In this podcast episode you get to:

  1. Listen to Shaun lose his cool about trolls
  2. Listen to Carrie end a voice memo because Shaun swears when he loses his cool about trolls.
  3. Learn writing things. Sort of.

OWNING YOUR OWN STUPID

There’s a BuzzFeed article about 23 Dogs Who are Too Adorably Stupid for Their Own Good.

Which is amazing.

But it made us think about why dogs get to be stupid and called adorable, but when humans are stupid, we’re called stupid and it’s derisive, you know?

There’s this constant pressure to be perfect, intelligent. You misspell too as two and 180 Twitter people are on your case. We all put so much pressure on each other to be free of mistakes, perfect princesses and princes.

But dogs? They fall in the pool? They’re adorable.

Dogs? They sit on a kid’s face and it’s amazing and funny.

Dogs? They sometimes think stuffed animals are real and we’re all, “Aw…. adorable!”

We’re so kind to dogs for their mistakes, but it’s more than that. We love and celebrate their mistakes. Their mistakes become viral sensations of cuteness. But when it’s our own selves?

We get mad. We judge ourselves. We are not quick to forgive. We expect to be perfect and when we aren’t? It’s like the end of the world.

It doesn’t have to be like that. We can own our own stupid, love our goofs, our mess-ups, not judge ourselves and just live and grow and create.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

This is especially true for writers. We are all about having perfect stories and sentences in our first drafts, but that’s not going to happen. We have to take breaths and forgive ourselves for using the word “KNEW” 89 times in a 300-word picture book.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

We’re adorable. We’re sometimes stupid. Be like us.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 




IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

Be the Writer Dog You Want to Be – Gabby the Dog’s Story

I was going to write about ellipses today, but I decided to tell you Gabby the Dog’s story instead even though it’s not the most practical writing tip for Writing Wednesday.

Gabby’s Story

Imagine spending the first year of your life chained to a tree in Alabama, pretty much never getting any food, standing there, crouching there, hiding there in winter, in rain, in heat, in storms. Imagine people throwing things at you. Imagine hoping that you’d be fed.

          That was Gabby’s life.

            She grew broken, malnourished. Her hips didn’t work. Her knees needed help. She had no muscles to brace her tendons and ligaments and joints. 

            When she was rescued, the Great Pyrenees Rescue Organization that Carrie volunteers for, took her in and wondered if she’d last very long.

I was looking for aN Old dog to love

            “I was looking for an old dog that nobody wants,” I said when I told the rescue organization I wanted a dog. “So, it has a nice place to die and it can feel safe and loved.”

            “We have a two-year-old dog,” they said.

            “That’s not old.”

            “She has a lot of issues,” they said.

            I’m used to issues. “Send her over.”

            They did. I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Massachusetts, right by Harvard. Gabby was terrified. The handlers passed her off. She shook with fear. She stared at the cars and trucks and students and cowered, a tiny, 55-lb skeleton of a dog.

            “She is afraid of the color white,” they said. “She flinches if you raise your hand up, but even if you’re just wearing a white shirt or a white hat? She flinches. She is a dog with problems. She’s not very loving.”

           I took Gabby for a walk around Harvard before the handlers left. Gabby flinched. She almost constantly flinched.

Gabby the Dog Cooking with a Writer Recipes - Peanut Butter is Awesome
Peanut Butter is Awesome!

            When Gabby and I got in the car for the four-and-a-half-hour ride back to Maine, Gabby put her head in my lap. She didn’t flinch. She gently licked my hand. She stayed that way the entire ride.

            And since then all Gabby has been is the one thing everyone said she wasn’t – loving. Very loving. 

            She decided to be the dog she wanted to be, a dog who loves, a dog who plays and bounds around like a bunny. A dog who protects her family. A dog who loves.

This is totally another reason why dogs are smarter than people.

Writers

Writers, we can do this, too. We can become the people we want to be, work at our craft, be persistent and make stories. People will doubt you can do this. You will doubt yourself. But the secret is to not flinch. The secret is to love what you do. The secret is to become what you love.

It’s easy to give up, to choose doubt. But love? Unflinching love? That’s a choice we have to make again and again. Don’t give up.


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 


The Worst Writing Advice that Takes Down Even the Best Writers

Carrie got really confused this week because she went on YouTube and looked up “Writing Advice” and there was a really popular vlogger who gives a ton of writing advice, but she’s not published things.

She is, however, really definite on her views on how to be a good writer, which is lovely. It’s lovely to be so confident.

But it made us think about what the worst writing advice ever is.

It’s not:

Write every day.

It’s not even:

Write what you know.

It’s not:

Write for you and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

It’s not any of those one-size fits all tidbits.

Here’s what it is:

Don’t write. It’s a waste of time.

I don’t care who is giving you this advice. It might be your mom, teacher, bff, your life-partner, kid, an evil bastard who lives next door, a published writer. Or worse, it could be your own inner-critic, which lurks like a demon of self doubt in your frontal lobe.

That advice? It’s crap. It’s jealousy or stupidity or self-doubt. If you want to write? Write.

Don’t believe me that everyone deals with this? Or almost everyone? Here is a quote from the man, himself.

The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them.


The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome—something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.


In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t get to make things up anymore.


—Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Author Matthew Kesselhas some pretty cool advice about what he does when he’s overwhelmed by self doubt.

He writes through the doubt.

He reminds himself of all the good things he’s done as a writer.

Incorporates that doubt into more emotionally resonate characters.

Talks through it with other writer people who know how it is.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Dude. Be who you are. Embrace it. Don’t question it. Go with the flow, man. Don’t let others label you or diminish you, but most importantly YOU don’t diminish you.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 


How to Survive Stupid Writing Advice

This week I got an Instagram message from a man selling his copyediting services and there were five incredibly obvious typos in his pitch. I’m talking about two words combined, misspelled words. Double punctuation at the end of a sentence.

It was sad.

So, there’s another guy on the internet who makes a ton of money helping other people be writers and I’m sure he’s lovely, but I find him incredibly frustrating.

Why?

He has a page all about writing advice and in that advice he has bullet points to make things simple because apparently people who want to be writers need things simple? Who knows.

But in those ten bullet points he has contradictory advice. In one bullet point he says,

Don’t be lazy. Don’t sound stupid.

In another he says,

Don’t worry about being good. Just write.

Hm.

In yet another he says,

Don’t be a perfectionist.

Yeah.

Look. I’m sure he’s helped a ton of people and his bullet points must have deeper meaning and insight, but here’s the thing. Writing isn’t about bullet points. Writing is about soul and depth. Writing is about communication and building worlds through words that create image and resonance.

How To Survive Stupid Writing Advice

1. Sort the good from the bad

Remember a lot of people are just trying to make money off you. Sad, but true. And some of these people are amazing and professionals and some aren’t. You have to sort the good from the bad.

2. One Size Does Not Fit All

Does your brain work exactly like your BFF’s? Your mom’s? You’re dog’s? No. It doesn’t. All advice doesn’t work for everyone. It’s okay to be the writer who works in spurts, who doesn’t outline, who writes every day. There’s no one right way to write anymore than there is one right way to human.

3. Believe in Yourself

When you get really crap advice at your writing critique group, or workshop or from your mentor or even your agent? And it just feels wrong?

That probably means it is. Don’t let group think or even an expert sway you from the truth of your story.

4. Try not to compare

Here’s the thing. If one writer publishes 100,00 copies? That doesn’t make them a better writer than the one who publishes 10. There’s a lot of stuff called marketing that goes on behind the scenes that makes one author have high sales. If one author always gets invited to conferences and you don’t? It doesn’t mean you suck. It might be that other author is good at schmoozing. Be proud of who you are and be who you are. Don’t try to emulate the people who you think are successful. Emulate yourself.

5. Blow it off And dig deep

Seriously. Blow off the comparisons, the advice that doesn’t work. Study the craft, the books YOU love, notice sentence structure, discover why you like the stories you like and then think about why YOU want to write your story, dig deep into why it matters to you.

Writing Tip of the Pod

If you’re going to pay people to help you, please do it with someone reputable. Please do it with someone who can spell. And please do it with someone who gives you consistent advice that resonates.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Some people suck and just want to use you for money or cute Instagram pictures. Avoid those people.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 


How to Survive Stupid Writing Advice

 
 
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Lambs Growing On Trees, Man. Write Your Truths Because Other Truths Change

Science isn’t always right.

I know! Shocker.

Once, some scientists had this theory about the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. They truly believed that the lamb grew on a tree.

To be fair, it was the Middle Ages in Europe and things were kind of like America right now. People had no clue about stuff, but they pretended to.

Anyway, according to Ripley’s Believe it Or Not,

There were believed to be two distinct varieties of Vegetable Lamb: a bizarre plant that produced tiny lambs inside pods, and an equally-bizarre hybrid creature that consisted of a whole, full-sized lamb, which lived suspended from the ground by a small stem! 

Chris Littlechild, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not

People believed this for centuries, right? Centuries.

What does this have to do with writing? When we write, we bring our pasts, our systems of belief and it ends up on our pages. Our work reflects our society and it reflects our own morality and beliefs. To be a good writer, we have to know what our truths are but also be willing to be challenged about them.

Writing is a communication, a social contract between the writer and the reader. We’re asking our readers to share our story, but also more subconsciously, to hear about our world views and thoughts. We’re inviting them in.

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s good for us to look at our own beliefs and morality occasionally. What do we believe in? Why do we think that’s right or true? How is that showing up in our stories?

Dog Tip For Life

Dogs truths are simple. Love is good. Food is good. Sleep is good. Squirrels are evil. Don’t be afraid to gel your beliefs down into simplicity.

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

Lambs Growing On Trees, Man. Write Your Truths Because Other Truths Change

 
 
00:00 / 00:19:04
 
1X
 

Imposter Syndrome, Again

I was on the #writingcommunity Twitter feed while I was traveling back home yesterday, and I noticed so many people feeling like imposters, worried that they weren’t following the writing ‘rules,’ worrying that they weren’t “real writers.”

It made me sad, honestly.

And it made me remember this post I had awhile ago about Imposter Syndrome, which I’m sharing again with you today.

Why?

Because you’re you. You aren’t fake, damn it. You are real and beautiful and trying. That’s what matters. I wish I could hug everyone out there and say, “Look at how you. You are amazing and shiny. Look at you growing, evolving, trying. What a freaking miracle you are.

You are.

How I Battle Imposter Syndrome

So, recently I was having a big period called, “I Suck At Everything.” It’s pretty much a variant of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome? It’s when you feel like everyone is suddenly going to realize that you are: 

  1. A big fraud.
  2. You suck
  3. Basically a big, sucky fraud that’s about to get called out by the YOU TRULY SUCK YOU LYING FRAUD PATROL 

And lots of amazing people have it. What kind of amazing people? People like Maya Angelo who has said, 

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” 

Maya Angelou

So, yeah, Maya Angelou, THE Maya Angelou has it, which kind of only makes mine worse because I think, “Um… I’m not that cool. I’m not even worthy of having imposter syndrome.”

This is even though I logically know that I’ve been on the NYT bestseller list, some of my books were bestselling books in other languages and I’ve even received awards for writing and I get happy reader email. And even though I just looked up “Carrie Jones Quotes” and found all these things I said that someone put to pictures/photos. 

(Yes, I did just google myself).

Anyways, here is the thing: 

Logic does not matter when you have imposter syndrome. 

Some people think imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re more important than you actually are. This might be true for others, but – ohmyfreakingword – seriously? I barely think I am doing anything halfway good enough to make this world a tiny bit better. This is so not my problem. It’s totally okay if it’s part of yours though. 

My personal imposter syndrome is linked to my I DO NOT DO ENOUGH syndrome. For instance if I don’t make a TO DO LIST and strike things off each day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing all day. If I accomplish nothing all day, I hate myself, feel guilty, and go to bed depressed. So, I always try to make to do lists like this: 

This visual representation, PLUS the advice of a friend on Facebook (Yes, they do exist), made me realize that I had to do the same thing with my imposter syndrome. I had to start collecting visual evidence to convince myself that I don’t completely suck. 

I remind myself that I have been called out before and I have survived. As someone connected to our local, mostly volunteer fire department, I witness our community come together a lot. It is a beautiful and glorious thing to see firefighters leave their families, dinners, jobs and go out and help other people. I blogged about this. A large, pedantic man caught me off guard less than a week later and berated me for writing schmaltz. That schmaltz was my heart. 

I was devastated. I was irate. I survived. 

I try to remind myself of all the things I have survived, sleeping in a car, witnessing a terror attack, sleeping with the enemy, massive amounts of seizures, assault, in order to realize that people thinking I’m a fraud? Calling me out for sucking? It will hurt. It does hurt. But it can be overcome. 

Reminding myself of the bad things that I’ve survived isn’t something I like to do, because I don’t want those things to define me. I don’t let them define me. But sometimes, it’s good to realize that being a survivor is something I can be proud of. 

Some people have imposter syndrome that comes from comparisons. They see someone else doing awesomely (In the book world, a prize, a list, an invitation to a conference) and think, “I suck because that is not me.”

Mine doesn’t work that way.

Mine is about fear not about envy. Mine is about the fear that I will be ridiculed for who I am and how I think. Mine is about the fear that my abilities are not enough. (Honestly, I can barely tie my shoes because my mechanical skills are so awful.) Mine is about being so poor that you don’t know how you’ll survive, about pain from being betrayed, about being hurt physically,  about public ridicule because of your political views or decisions, about cognitive degeneration, about not fitting in because you grew up outside of what society’s norms are. My fear is about things that have already happened to me and I don’t want to happen again. 

My imposter syndrome is about exposure even when I have already been exposed. 

My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that. 

My imposter syndrome is about fear. 

That’s all it is.

Fear. 

So I remind myself with my notebook that I have had joys, that I have had tiny, kind interactions, where I have touched other people’s stories and gotten to glimpse at their truths and their lives and how amazing is that? It is amazing. 

My notebook is to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, I have had those moments, been blessed by them, and lucky. It’s to remind me that you can’t be an imposter when all you’re are doing is being yourself. Your real self. 

Don’t let fear make you an imposter. 

Because you are too good for that. Your story deserves to be told. 


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg

The Best Writers Care

I was just visiting an awesome school in Greensboro, North Carolina talking about my Moe Berg picture book biography and I was telling the kids about how to show not tell emotion and I had an epiphany right after a kid asked if I was Italian because I spoke with my hands so much.

Spoiler Alert: I am a lot of things, but I am not Italian.

Anyways, I realized that the biggest writing tip I can give is to live unafraid in your words, live unafraid in your loves, live unafraid in your experiences.

Live the biggest, fullest life you can imagine because every person you meet, every thing you do will help you shape not only the stories and people you put in your books and fiction, but also in your lives.

So here is the thing. 

We are all human. 
We all suffer. 
We all make mistakes. 
We all do good things. 

And it feels, often, that we can never do enough. Or learn enough. Or get to touch other people’s stories.

I realized all this when we were delivering wheelchairs to this man, David Castellanos, and his family in Belize. One wheelchair helps. Raising money for a wheelchair helps. But there is still so much more to do. 

Part of that is hearing and truly listening to other people.

David had a stroke. He is 42. Social media isn’t tweeting and posting about him. He and his family are quietly living their stories, the happy ones and sad ones.

David’s wife asked me if I knew of a way to get more money for him to help with his medicine. I didn’t. There’s no nice easy way for them to get a GoFundMe. They already work hard and barely manage financiallyAfter . I asked the local Rotarian in charge if he could help. He was not helpful. 

After we fitted David and his wheelchair, Mrs. Castellanos stood at the gate to their home and watched us go. She watched the truck full of wheelchairs go. She watched the first van go. Then it was our van.

We couldn’t just go.

I couldn’t handle it. Shaun jumped out of our van and gave her some money. Yes, I know it’s not enough still to help with his medicine and yes, I know it’s not a long-term solution.

What I’d Like

I would like people to live in a world where they can be sick and not feel like they are draining their family’s income and future. Belize. The United States. Everywhere.

I would like people to live in a world where a wheelchair isn’t a verdict, where you can lift out of poverty even when you are in pain.

That hopelessness is here, too, in Maine, in the United States. We should be able to do better than this. And I am lucky to see this, to witness it, to even witness my own helplessness, because it makes my own story bigger and richer.

David matters. You matter. I matter. Our stories matter. Our lives matter and we all deserve a chance to live them as fully as we possibly can.

When you write your life, when you tell your stories, remember that we are all surviving and loving and struggling. Put that heart in there, make your feelings, your wants and your emotions resonate. The world needs to hear stories – all stories – and their tiny pinpricks of hope and truth and reality that peek out even when embedded in fiction.

The best writers care about more than their own success or follower-counts. Every tweet isn’t about how awesome they are. Every moment in their life isn’t just about them. The ability to have empathy, to see, to observe and care about things? That makes a difference and you read that difference on every single line of every page. The magic of caring comes through and makes your story resonate with truth.

Rotary

Rotary allows me to meet Rotarians in other countries. It allows me to meet David. It allows me to take action to make change in my community and in the global community. Thanks to Rotary, I get to hear stories that are different than mine and like mine all at once. That’s the best kind of gift.

If you’d like to learn more about Rotary, check it out here or message me and/or comment.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app. Our latest episode is below. It’s also on YouTube here.